Need Of Data Privacy In The Age Of Online Learning

The data when effectively used can allow the stakeholders to make and customise personalised decisions based on the need of the learner and help the learner to succeed.

Online learning is a new normal for the education industry in the current unprecedented times. Those grimy blackboards, encrusted overhead projectors, saturated photocopies, and heavy books might sound old school, but to many, they were the only source of education. E-Learning is a technology based medium created for effectively imparting education. It helps in creating a user-friendly education environment. This manifests further in the form of online classes, e-books, e-tests, and interactive whiteboards, among others. 

Online learning has become a dominant means of providing knowledge to people of all age groups, rather than becoming a standalone concept to a few. The intersection of learning online and customizing education for students has started becoming a grave challenge with data privacy at stake. Most of the digital learning platforms have the option of recording students’ and parents’ data.

Data in education is referred to the information that an institution, district, trainer, and online service provider collects from each student. It includes personal, professional, and meta-data. The data when effectively used can allow the stakeholders to make and customise personalised decisions based on the need of the learner and help the learner to succeed. With abundant data accessible around the world, it is often widely misused and thus it calls for an understanding of the ways to avoid data breaches.

Anonymise the identifiers

Personal identifiers of students, teachers, trainers, and assistants should be stored as anonymous to avoid stalkers, trolls, and targeted attacks. Also, any personal information going public should be used in a generic context rather than being person specific.

No public display of contacts

Any contact information such as contact numbers or email IDs should not be displayed to the public at large and must not be accessible on a web page. This can help in avoiding spam calls, and irrelevant or unnecessary messages, and emails. Any contact information displayed can be misused in unforeseen contexts.

Prevent unwanted entities

Any meeting, be it either video or audio requires a link to be shared with the fellow members for them to attend the meeting. The links should not be made public in order to prevent the entry of unwanted entities. 

Strong IT system

The institutions should position a robust IT system by deploying HTTPS with strong TLS, preventing credentials of students from being tapped in the public Wi-Fi zones and mobile networks.

Data leak disclosure 

An organization should be transparent with the disclosure of any data leak if it happens. The parents must be notified if their child’s data is leaked or exposed to any person or an organization outside the institution with a proper label of the students and a public announcement thereafter.

No commercial uses

As per moral conduct, educational institutions cannot sell the student’s data in either a direct or indirect way for marketing purposes. Any institution unable to follow the conduct must be heavily fined, as per the local jurisdiction.

Security protection

All educational institutions must implement security protocols ensuring the privacy of all personal data, prioritizing the students’ personal data and passwords. Proper security measures can turn out to be a game-changer for big educational institutions for maintaining privacy and confidentiality of data and protecting the interests of the learners, and their dependents.

Parental rights

Parents must be allowed to access the data that has been collected from their children at school. They also should be able to delete it at any time or opt out of procedures that demand further data collection, with this right specified and communicated clearly to the parents at the time of admission.

Law enforcement

With the advancement of technology, many educational organisations have formed legislation, regulations, policies, and code of conduct to protect the data and avoid privacy breaches of a student. Special ethics and compliance departments have also been introduced in the organisations along with a compliance officer in charge to address privacy concerns of students and children. In addition to this, some social organizations and not for profit organizations (NPOs) have also come together and are undertaking measures for safeguarding the personal data and privacy of all the students who have opted for online learning. 

The apex body governing the schools and the institutions must specify fines and legal actions for the educational facilities that fail to protect student’s data and integrity.

With the Covid-19 spread across the country, online learning has become the only mode for students to continue with their education. But concerns related to the protection of data and privacy is definitely a major concern. The students, teachers, administration officials, and educational institutions have a great responsibility of ensuring that there is no data breach. To protect the personal details, all the stakeholders including students should be made be aware of the means to protect the data.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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data security online learning e-learning

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